8 December, 2023
Costly re-opening for waste transfer station
RESIDENTS of Mt Garnet were celebrating last week after hearing the news their waste transfer station will re-open for three days a week.
The waste station was permanently closed in June after Tablelands Regional Council determined that repairing infrastructure at the facility was not worth it given the small number of people using it.
A report to council at the time advised that the transfer station, which services a community of 274 people, had a low utilisation rate, with 49 visits per week. It also revealed that structural damage in a retaining wall was at risk of “catastrophic failure” if any further loading from vehicular movements were allowed in close proximity to the wall.
The council had the option of doing repairs to the wall at a cost of $107,000 and re-open the facility, or to spend $75,000 to demolish the failed wall, repatriate the area and permanently close the station.
But after pleas by the community to find a way to re-open the waste station, council backflipped on its original decision in September and moved to investigate how this could be done and at what cost.
At its November meeting, council opted to re-open the facility three days a week and to replace the infrastructure on the site at a cost of more than $370,000.
Infrastructure Services general manager Mark Vis warned councillors that the figures in the report were “concept only, based on no design whatsoever, and are just rough estimates”.
Councilors also put a tight deadline of 29 February for the works to be done and the station to be operational again.
The expenditure came under scrutiny though, with Cr David Clifton querying CEO Gary Rinehart as to whether there were any funds in the capital budget to undertake the works.
Mr Rinehart confirmed there was no allocation and also warned councillors that once proper design and detailed costing was completed, it many surpass the amount council can award in a contract during the caretaker period came into play in January before the next election.
Cr Bernie Wilce made it clear that he thought the matter was black and white.
“I’m disappointed that we’re even talking about this again. We have debated this on several occasions,” he said.
“We all agreed we had some hard decisions to make some time back. We made the decision to close it and a couple of months later on, here we are again talking about finding another $370,000 plus to replace the infrastructure and reopen it.
“I voted the first time to close it, I argued the second time that we shouldn’t be considering this at all and we’re here again today and I will be voting against it.”
But Cr Peter Hodge argued that the people of Mt Garnet had no fault in what had occurred at the transfer station.
“It was successive council’s fault because of poor design and no maintenance being done. So it’s not the people of Mt Garnet’s fault – it’s council’s fault,” he said.
“They’re right out there at the south-western end of TRC. We’re here, we have all the facilities we need, they hardly have any facilities out there.”
Divisional Cr Annette Haydon also argued for the re-opening to go ahead.
“The waste transfer Station in Mt Garnet can offer several benefits to this small community. Residents are able to contribute to efficient waste management and environmental sustainability also contributing to the community’s effort to minimise the environmental footprint,” she said.
“Proper waste management is essential for protecting public health and safety reducing the risk of illegal dumping and the exposure of hazardous materials.
“Mt Garnet transfer can be managed efficiently with similar hours as Millaa Millaa.”
Council voted 4-3 to re-open the waste transfer station.